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Bomb in Baghdad Kills Two Coalition Soldiers

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2004 – Two Task Force 1st Armored Division soldiers died today in separate engagements south of Kufa, U.S. Central Command officials announced in a news release.

One soldier was killed when his patrol was ambushed with small-arms fire, and the other was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his tank during a patrol.

Another Task Force 1st Armored Division soldier died and two others were wounded at about 6:40 p.m. May 30 when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad, CENTCOM announced in another release today.

The soldier who was killed survived the explosion at the scene, but died later at the 31st Combat Support hospital, the release said.

An IED later determined to be a 500-pound bomb exploded in southeast Baghdad, killing one coalition soldier at the scene and another who died later, a senior military spokesman said at a Baghdad news conference today.

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations director for Multinational Force Iraq, said the soldiers were reopening traffic checkpoints in the southeast part of Baghdad.

Another explosion today, this one in central Baghdad, killed four Iraqi citizens and wounded 25 others, Kimmit said, citing the Department of Health as his source for the casualty figures. The blast, he said, emanated from a remotely controlled car bomb. A coalition news release later revised the casualty figures downward, to two killed and 13 wounded.

In the 24 hours leading up to today's news conference, Kimmitt said, coalition forces conducted 1,845 patrols and 16 offensive operations, flew 42 Air Force and Navy sorties and released 12 detainees.

In the central-south zone of operations, members of radical cleric Muqtada al- Sadr's militia continue to attack coalition forces in Kufa, the general said. Three attacks took place overnight: two with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and a third in which a mortar round hit near a coalition base camp, he added.

Whether the attacks in Kufa are the work of Sadr's militia, others seeking to align themselves with the militia, or others yet trying to have Sadr's militia blamed for attacking coalition forces doesn't matter, Kimmitt said. "If they are taking up arms against Iraqis, if they are taking up arms against the coalition, they will be taken care of; it's that simple," he said. "We have an obligation to provide a safe and secure environment here in Iraq, and we will."

He emphasized, however, that the coalition continues to stay focused on and to encourage a peaceful solution to the situation in Kufa. "You'd much rather solve this peacefully and quietly than with a lot of noise and a lot of weapons," he said.

The general repeated the coalition's position that Sadr's Iraqi-brokered agreement to have his militia disarm and disperse applies not only to Najaf proper, but also to the entire Najaf governate, which includes Kufa and the middle Euphrates.

"We've got to stop this fighting," he said, "because it is leading nowhere for these young people who are falling under the trance of Muqtada, and all they're doing is getting themselves hurt, getting themselves wounded, getting themselves killed."

In the north-central zone of operations, Kimmitt said, an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps soldier was killed and another was wounded in a drive-by shooting at a checkpoint northeast of Baghdad. One Iraqi security guard was killed and another was wounded when attackers fired on a private security company's convoy from an overpass in northwest Baghdad, the general said.

In the western zone of operations, Kimmitt said, Fallujah remains calm, and coalition forces are working on reconstruction and clean-up projects, employing 1,400 Iraqi citizens.

Coalition forces conducted a raid in Barwana on May 30, targeting a terrorist cell leader believed to have been involved in multiple attacks on an air base and the placement of numerous roadside bombs along coalition military convoy routes, Kimmitt said. One suspect was detained, and coalition forces confiscated weapons, ammunition, document and passports.

In the southeastern zone, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 308 patrols and captured an anti-coalition suspect.

A number of attacks against coalition forces in Amara took place over the 24 hours leading up to today's news conference, Kimmitt said, with no coalition casualties. In each case, he added, coalition forces returned fire, causing the enemy to disengage.

Kimmitt said reports that 100 Iraqi police sent to Najaf for joint patrols with U.S. forces deserted when no flak jackets or shelter were available for them are "just not consistent with the facts." The general said some logistical problems hadn't been worked through by the time the police officers arrived for duty. He added expects those problems to be resolved in the next day or two, and that the 100 police officers will be able to begin their duty in Najaf. "They certainly didn't desert," Kimmitt said.

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